Redbridge reacts to Supreme Court’s term-time holidays decision

Justices of the Supreme Court yesterday ruled it is right to fine parents who take their children on

Justices of the Supreme Court yesterday ruled it is right to fine parents who take their children on holidays during term time. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A UK Supreme Court decision to uphold a fine imposed on a father who took his child on holiday in term time has split opinion in Redbridge.

In a unanimous decision yesterday, Supreme Court justices upheld the fine imposed on a father by Isle of Wight Council for the unauthorised seven-day break in April 2015.

Judges took the view that the meaning of “regular” attendance was “in accordance with the school’s attendance rules”.

The news came on the same day figures were released by education solicitors Simpson Millar that showed Redbridge Council had issued the most amount of fines to parents in London last year.

Obtained through Freedom of Information requests, the data revealed that parents in Redbridge had been fined 3,182 times in the 2015/16 term, meaning payments of at least £190,920 went to the council.

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, which she said “removes uncertainty for schools and local authorities”.

She said: “It’s important that headteachers have the ability to decide what exceptional circumstances would allow for a child to be absent.

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“In Redbridge, our most recent GCSE results were excellent and we ranked 10th out of 150 local authorities for the new average progress 8 measure and second for its progress 8 score in mathematics.

“Our borough also ranked 16th in the percentage of children attaining five A*-C GCSEs including English and maths.”

And Cllr Norman stressed that it was regular attendance that helped Redbridge attain such brilliant grades.

“One of the reasons our students are able to achieve such results is because they attend school regularly and we discourage holidays during term time so that they are taken only when absolutely necessary. Evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving high GSCE results.”

But Redbridge’s representative for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Kash Malik, told the Recorder he was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the decision.

“I am amazed they’ve upheld it,” he said. “All that does is prove that it’s one law for the rich and one law for the poor.

“It is incumbent upon Redbridge Council to look after all its children, so what I want to know is if it plans to ask the borough’s private schools to provide information on parents taking their children out of school so that they can be fined as well.

“Because I can guarantee the answer to that question is no.”